Archive | October, 2012

Maple Apple Frangipane

20 Oct

The windows are open, autumnal sunshine is pouring into my kitchen, and the sound of the Howard Homecoming is echoing down the block–the perfect day to put freshly-picked apples to use!

In the beginning of September, I messed around with this thing called frangipane and the results were underwhelming.  I swore not to be outdone by the French and their delicacies (NB: yes, the word “frangipane” is clearly Italian, but Wikipedia tells me it used to be “franchipane,” which is apparently French… so I can still blame the fussiness of this almond filling on the French! Sorry, Sarkozypoo!) and I have finally circled back around to conquer this beast.

And conquer it I have.

Let’s back up. Earlier this month, I met CousinKef and BabyKef for some fun fall activities that resulted in about 20 lbs of apples sitting in my kitchen waiting to be transformed into autumnal treats.

Why, yes, that IS what 19.3 lbs of apples look like!

Flash forward about two weeks, and we’re in spinning class on a beautiful Saturday morning (why I didn’t just ride my damn bike in this gorgeous weather is neither here nor there).  The way-too-peppy-for-8am instructor is talking some mess about how good the burn feels when it hits me: I am going to apple-ize the frangi-whatever and it is going to be delicious.

The result was amazing! This may be the creation I am most proud of since I made those out-of-this-word pork chops. There are three components, but none is particularly time consuming. I simplified the process by using a pre-mixed gluten-free pie crust (it is not a pie crust mix, per se, as you still have to add several ingredients–it just pre-combines all the weird flours you have to buy for $8.99/cup into one $3.69 mix and is enough for two pies. Awesome.)

I came, I saw, I frangipaned.  You’re welcome.

Apple Frangipane With Maple Glaze

  • Pie crust of your choice. I used the Glutino Gluten-Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix (which requires you to add baking powder, egg, butter, shortening, water, and vinegar). You can do whatever you’d like).
  • 2 c almond flour/meal
  • 2 TBS liquor of choice–dark rum or cognac would be good, I used Godiva chocolate liquor because THAT is what your girl keeps around for emergencies, apparently
  • 1 stick of butter, cold and cut into TBS portions
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3-1/2c honey
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet apples, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 6 TBS maple syrup (the 100% real stuff–please do not let me find you using IHOP brand or some crap like that.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 425. Whatever pie crust you are using should be cold, so if you made it yourself, put it in a pie or tart pan and let chill in freezer. Once it has chilled for about 20 minutes, poke fork holes all over it and cover the tips with either a wreath of tin foil or a pie-crust shield. Cook until crust is just turning golden brown, which will depend on the crust but will probably take about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven heat to 375.
2. Combine almond flour, liquor, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey (start with 1/3 c honey and proceed to step 3. If at the end of step 3 the frangipane is not sweet enough for you, add honey and mix until you like the taste.)  A food processor or blender would be easiest, but if you do not have one then stirring vigorously will be just fine. 
3. Cut in the butter one TBS at a time until a thick, gooey paste has formed–again, I did this in my food processor and it took about 1 minute, but you can do it the old-fashioned way with a pastry blender or potato masher. (If you want to add more honey, now is the time.) Set aside.
4. To make the glaze, mix together melted butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Put thinly-sliced apples in a bowl and toss with maple glaze. 
5. Place the frangipane (almond mix) in the cooled pie crust and level off with a rubber spatula.  Arrange soaked apple slices however you would like on top in a single layer. Pour remaining maple glaze evenly over the tart. You will probably have a few gooey apple slices left over–eat them!
6. Cook tart until center is firm to touch, it took my little oven about 40 minutes–just start checking around 30 minutes or so. Let cool, enjoy! For added sweetness, whip up a half batch of maple glaze and drizzle a few drops on pieces immediately before serving.

Cauliflower, Carmelized Onions, Squash, and Cheese Casserole

18 Oct

Last week my unit had a comfort-food potluck. I had two heads of cauliflower in the fridge and figured I’d see what ye olde interwebs said about cauliflower and comfort.

Turns out, if you throw cauliflower in a pan with some caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash, and a whole lotta cheese, it becomes quite delicious. AND makes for a pretty nice picture, thank you very much.

I followed this recipe exactly (except I substituted chives for rosemary), so I won’t bother to reproduce here– enjoy!

Eggplant "Keftedes"

16 Oct
Hello to my loyal readers (loyal enough to remember me, since yesterday was my first post in 11 months)-

My apologies for my absence, but I have been busy with some other things.  Notably, things like this traditional Greek-abandoned-train dance I’m demonstrating below.

In case you have been reading this blog and thinking, “Gosh, they keep posting these damn recipes I can make myself and ALL I WANT ARE SOME REVIEWS OF GREEK RESTAURANTS IN PARIS,” I bring good news: L’Olivier, which I mentioned last year, has completely redone the interior and also has received a Michelin star.  Boo-ya-ka-sha.  

I have also found new exciting and not-too-stuffy Parisian places that we’ll have to talk about another time, although those who know me will be stunned to learn that they’re all rive droite (horror!).  But they’re all reaaaaly fun and realllly good:
  • Jaja 
  • le taxi jaune–specialist in horse meat, which sadly my soon-to-be-30 diet prevented me from having (because who doesn’t say “I’m going to be 30 in a year and therefore I will abstain from eating Mr. Ed?), but the fish and ratatouille were also awesome
  • Autour d’un verre, which is really Brooklyn, except for (1) the menu that is only on the chalkboard (ChefKefi, RN editor note–please excuse my brother who has lived out of the country for a decade and does not realize that this is what EVERY restaurant in Brooklyn did four years ago/still does), (2) no one’s speaking English, and (3)  THE WINE.  Amazing wines, all chosen by the waiters when you describe what you want.  And all the wines are ‘new’ French
  • And, finally, Au Coin Bio, which is perfect for a Sunday brunch if you’re walking through the Marais and want to eat at makeshift tables in an outdoor market
(ChefKefi, RN editor note: THANK THE LORD that now when people google “gluten-free pumpkin recipes with Parisian restaurant reviews, my blog will come up first!)
Ok, so onto the food. Keftedes are great Greek meatballs.  If you’re Greek-American and a bit health conscious, however, you make them vegetarian. And if you’re Greek-American, health-conscious and a bit creative, you bake them as a casserole rather than frying them. And then they look like this:
The 2nd full dish from the left.
They are a little labor intensive but so worth it. Best if made the night before so the flavor comes together.

JetSet Kef’s Keftedes
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2.5 tomatoes
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 1 Green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil or spearmint, finely chopped
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 150(ish)g good feta cheese
  • 1c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
1a (do in parallel with steps 1b and 1c). Peel the eggplant and soak in salted water for 30 mins. Grate or dice very finely.  Then you need to get all the water out of the eggplant.  This part is fundamentally not fun.  The best thing to do is put a few tablespoons of eggplant into a potato ricer at a time and squeeze all the water out.  (You can only do a few tablespoons at a time, though — don’t go crazy otherwise you won’t get the water out.  And getting the water out of the eggplants and the tomatoes is one of the tricks here.)  By the way, if you don’t have a potato ricer, get one.  Game changer.  Also if you don’t have a potato ricer, you can squeeze the water out bit by bit with your hands (if you have 4 hours).

1b. Peel the tomatoes.  Then cut into quarters and squeeze them like lemons to get rid of the seeds and a lot of the water.  Then dice them. Now put a paper towel into into a sieve and put the tomatoes on top of them.  Add some salt to the tomatoes and let them sit for a least an hour while you’re getting other things ready.  When it’s done, the tomatoes should be much drier and should peel away from the paper towel pretty easily.

1c. Dice the peppers, onions, garlic and herbs. Everything should be nice and small otherwise you will be eating baked wannabe-ratatouille

2. Place the eggplant and the tomatoes into a large bowl and all the peppers, herbs, garlic, egg, vinegar, baking powder and salt and pepper. (NB: you only need red peppers to add some color to the final product … otherwise it comes out a not-so-appetizing brown-ish grey.  If you really hate red peppers and you like brown food, feel free to skip them).  Stir gently; add the cheese and the flour.  Add the flour slowly — you don’t want these to get too floury.  As you add it, you can test the consistency by putting a bunch onto a teaspoon; if it slides off, it’s too watery, and if it sticks, it’s too dry.  You want it to be like thick honey:
Even JetSet Kef gets a sous chef sometimes–meet Khalid Kef!

3. Put all of this into an olive oiled baking pan and cook for 30+ minutes on 350.  Let it cool and serve.  You’ll know it’s done when there’s not water cooking up on the sides anymore (another reason why you really need to get the water out of the tomato and the eggplant before you start cooking).  The cheese should have melted and it should be nicely warm all the way through.  It often takes a good 45+ minutes for me — so just make sure to start monitoring it after 30 mins.

Return of the JetSet Kef

15 Oct

Big Brother Kef is back in town. Usually it is my dear sister who does the dirty work in the kitchen while I keep the water boiling as the Executive Sous Chef of Keftown (see here for more on that).  But, inspired by the post-DNC 2012 “Clinton bump,” she’s decided to call in the old dogs to teach some new tricks.  During her tenure, two very prominent themes have emerged:

  • dishes are meatless
  • photos of said meatless dishes range from unappetizing to “…oh, I see how that might actually taste good if that were a better picture.” (I love my sister and her food–but seriously, she really could have benefited from the photography class all the “artsy” kids in our high school took junior year.)

So after months of hiatus from this blog, it is with great pleasure that I break one of these trends and bring you today a great MEAT recipe I promise you will come out beautifully…except you’ll have to make do with a truly non-illustrative picture in typical CUK style.  I assume by now you are used to this. LebKef and I made this dish together for Greek Easter 2012 in Beirut and it was a show stopper.  Look closely at the picture below and you will find this perfectly-prepared lamb in between lots of other wonderfully-made dishes:

Still don’t think this lamb will be the best thing you put in your mouth this week? Ask yourself this: would a man who willingly dresses like this

ever steer you wrong when it comes to some lamb? I don’t think so.

LebKef’s Lamb Chop

  • 3 tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 6 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic
  • 1 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 double rack lamb rib chops, or 8 lamb loin chops


1. FOR THE VINAIGRETTE: Combine Dijon, balsamic vinegar, and garlic in non reactive metal bowl. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Remove rosemary needles from sprig. Chop and add to vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
 2. Cut lamb into individual chops by cutting down between the bones (each bone should have a nice round piece of meat attached).In plastic bag with half of the marinade, marinade for 10 minutes (or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator). Reserve half of marinade for finishing chops with sauce for serving.
3. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium to high heat.Remove chops from marinade. Wipe off excess liquid and season chops with salt and pepper.
4. Grill chops for 2 to 3 minutes per side (or until meat is medium rare).
5. Remove chops from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve lamb chops with reserved marinade.

Same Love

15 Oct

I just love this sweet little video sent around by the good people at Upworthiest (actually–I don’t know if they’re good people, I just know that they put together one helluva great library of progressive videos with which I fill my rainy days off!)– it speaks for itself, so I won’t bother trying to add. Get out the tissues and remember that today is the LAST DAY to register to vote in many states!


Berry Sangria

1 Oct

Once upon a time, when it was fall, someone’s birthday, and someone’s turn to go study abroad, we made sangria in 25 liter batches. Yes, you read that correctly.

These days, birthdays are not the excuse for debauchery they once were (and my liver thanks you for that, Lord!), but they still make an excellent occasion for some sangria. In general, I find restaurant-made sangria too sweet (and if you’re drinking the pre-made Sutter Home stuff, please check yo’self) so I endeavored to make my own with all the flavor, but not so much sweetness. Enjoy!

Grown Up Berry Sangria Fit for a Birthday (but not a Rubbermaid Vat)


  • 750 mL berry vodka (I used Ciroc)
  • 1 bottle Sweet Red wine (I used Barefoot–it does not need to be a medal winner)
  • 1 juggo red wine (don’t pretend not to know EXACTLY what size bottle I’m describing) of a sweetish variety (shiraz is easy found and affordable)
  • 1 pint of strawberries, sliced thin
  • teensy bit of honey 
  • 1/8 cup water

1. Put sliced strawberries in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and drizzle (seriously, people–not a lot) honey over. Let sit in the pan (no heat yet) if you have time for about 15 minutes–apparently sugar brings out the juices and flavor of berries.
2. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and let this simmer for 12-15 minutes, until berries take on a stewy consistency. Remove from heat, let cool.
3. With a bowl under a strainer, separate what solid fruit is left from the juice–yes, some of it looks like goop. That is right.
4. Put the solid parts of your berry stew (even the goopity-goop) in the bottom of your containers. Mix together your berry juice, vodka, and wine, and add to the berry stew in the containers. Chill and enjoy!

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